A salad to wake you up, and dessert heaven

I was going to start this post by saying that the above pear tart is the best dessert I have had in ages/my new favourite dessert. But my boyfriend cruelly mocked me yesterday for apparently starting all my blog posts (or at least those that are dessert-related) with that phrase, so in defiance I am not going to use such an opening. I will instead say that this pear tart is simply "a dessert worth making". (Even though it is in fact one of my new favourite desserts. Sshh...)

The recipe came from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cookery, a book I have only recently discovered amid my mother's recipe book collection. It is quite an old one, I think, and has no photos, but does have some charming illustrations and is a complete bible of Italian food. It taught me how to make pasta - quite an accolade - and has all the information you could ever need about Italian ingredients, how to match pasta to sauces, how to make a proper risotto... The recipe for "A farm wife's fresh pear tart" caught my eye, as the words "pear tart" are generally quite likely to do in any circumstance. Better still, it involved no faffing around making pastry. You simply take about a kilo of pears (I used conference), peel, core and slice them, then fold them into a batter of eggs, milk, flour and sugar. Pour into a tin greased and dusted with breadcrumbs, stud with cloves, and bake for about 45 minutes. A sort of pear clafoutis, I suppose, but more fruity than cakey. I could stress how incredibly delicious it is, warm from the oven, with vanilla ice cream, but I am now wary of saying such things thanks to Jon. So, I will just say, try it yourself. Ask me if you want the recipe.

Preceding this dessert I made a salad from Ottolenghi's first cookbook. I am beginning to think that anything he creates is guaranteed to be mouthwateringly delicious; I've never had an average Ottolenghi recipe yet. Sometimes the list of ingredients may strike me as a bit bizarre, and I find it hard to imagine how it would taste. This was one such recipe. It involves roasting a chicken (easy), then making a salad using three types of rice: basmati, wild and brown. To this you add chopped spring onions, sauteed whole onion, chopped red chilli, loads of mint and coriander, chopped rocket, and a dressing made from the chicken roasting juices, sesame oil, Thai fish sauce, olive oil and lemon juice. The result is truly delicious: it has a kick from the chilli and is quite sharp from the lemon juice and fish sauce, but you end up with beautifully moist rice from the chicken juices and then tasty pieces of chicken meat scattered throughout. Not a difficult dish to make and well worth the effort it takes to separately cook three types of rice. Yotam himself remarks that it is "delicious and nutritious". I could not agree more.